Somewhere between now and where we left off;

I started this blog for many reasons. One, because very few female, solo, international, SOBO thru-hikers existed. It didn’t provide for a lot of useful research and I wanted to create that space for others who were going to embark on the same journey.

I finished the PCT in 2016. It’s been 4 years since then.

I never finished writing my blog, because frankly, it’s incredibly demanding to write when you’re on trail. It was something I dreaded every night. I don’t like my writing and I hated doing it. Part of me wanted to spend time recording each day so I could look back and relive every individual day spent on the PCT. The other part of me wanted to enjoy every second on trail while I was there, in the moment. Long distance hiking demands so much mental and physical capacity each day. I didn’t want to add to that by writing.

It may sound silly, but when you are walking across the country, the mental game is 100x more challenging than the physical. The physical, you learn to adapt to. The mental game is a long battle you’re constantly trying to win. You think of everything you can ever imagine. You think about every person you’ve ever met. Every stupid thing you’ve said or done. You think about your past and you think about your future. God knows you have the time for it.

I think I found a balance, in writing that is, which inevitably is the best way to approach most things in life. In the early days of my hike, I struggled with the decision: do I want to continue thru-hiking, or, do I switch to section hiking? I knew I came out there to thru-hike the PCT, but it was never a big deal for me to complete it. That mentality is kind of unheard of for SOBO thru-hikers, which at this point I wasn’t, and it was why I had a hard time at the beginning. I struggled with no one else relating to that. It was more important for me to enjoy the experience. Why would I want to do a thru-hike if I wasn’t going to appreciate it? I know better than to waste my own time.

I took breaks in Seattle. Portland. Ashland. I went to those places not knowing whether I still wanted to go on. I went to those places needing a break. Looking back, I think it was just my need for a materialistic, chaotic relapse. I always got back on trail. I always missed it too much.


I’m sorry to anyone who has read my blog and yearned for its finish. I know that may sound egotistic, but it has been a topic of discussion in the past. To be honest, it has always bothered me that I had never finished. My initial goal was to record a complete blog so other hikers could learn and take from my experiences. I benefited so deeply from the blogs I read, and without them, I wouldn’t have been able to approach the PCT with such grace.

The other reason I wanted to finish writing my blog was for Ken; you always asked when I was going to finish, as if you had always known I would do it. I wouldn’t have written this post if it wasn’t for you. I knew I at least owed it to you to write a final piece. So here we are:

So much happened between where I last left off and the end; Me, Toto, Gaucha and Colonel got through the Sierra. We hiked the desert. Grizz met up with us at Walker Pass. It was a surprise and we were so happy to see him. He had been camping in the desert for two days waiting for us. After so many miles, Grizz and Gaucha went off to finish the trail at their own pace. Me, Toto, and Colonel hiked the rest of the desert together. Grizz and Gaucha finished the trail. The rest of us finished a few days after.

There was a lot that happened in between. I have some lingering notes I never typed up. I could probably look back at a map and piece some sections together, as I did with my last few posts. I could finish writing about the latter half of my hike. But there is a lesson in sacredness. And part of me wants to keep those memories to myself. Who knows, maybe I’ll look back one day and want to write about the rest of my PCT days. I don’t doubt that I will. But for now, I think I’ll keep them to myself.

So, here’s to all the in between:

We saw rattlesnakes and tarantulas. We saw windmills. Lots of them. We learned that the desert isn’t flat. We had unexpected frost in the desert and I had a brush with death and cried through the night. We lost motivation. We went to Vegas. We got kicked out of Vegas. We saw the most incredible sunsets. Every night. I enjoyed every second of them. We loved the desert. We hated the desert. We got sucked in at the Anderson’s. We ate lots of pancakes. We almost lost Toto in Julian. We had one last sunrise. And one last sunset.

We were almost done the PCT.
We were done the PCT.

I don’t even remember what it felt like to finish the PCT. I’m sure it was anti-climatic. It still doesn’t feel like I hiked from Canada to Mexico. It’s hard to conceptualize. I remember seeing mile marker 1. Our last mile. Colonel looked back at us and offered out his hand. I started crying. We all joined hands and finished together. All I really remember is being so happy to be where I was, with the people who were with me. Grizz and Gaucha finished a few days earlier and met me, Toto, Colonel, Pippy and Gramps at the monument with some food and beer. Can you ask for better friends?

After we finished, the five of us (me, Toto, Grizz, Gaucha, and Colonel) spent a few days together in San Diego. It was a dream. I want to go back. We started saying our goodbyes. Toto and I took off to LA to start an adventure of our own; a love story that narrated the following three years. Me, Gaucha, Grizz, Colonel and Toto all still keep in close contact. I am thankful for them. I am happy to have them in my life. I wish they could take up a larger space but its hard.

My PCT experience was individual and unique in many ways. It had lots of ups and lots of downs. I wouldn’t it trade it for anything.


When people talk about the PCT, they either ask questions pertaining to the planning or the actual experience. No one talks about the aftermath.

I think I am one of the few people who really struggled with life after the PCT. When you go 4.5 months with a very direct goal in sight, returning to normal life can feel purposeless. At the same time, I was extremely goal oriented, which I think is natural after a thru-hike. I was filled with determination and adventure, but I had no way to translate it. I knew I wanted to be back in nature. I wanted to move to the West Coast. The “high” the PCT gave me caused me to set extremely unrealistic goals for myself, which led to a lot of disappointment and self doubt, despite what I had just accomplished. I felt over stimulated by the world around me. It was hard to relate to other people.

I think this is important to talk about because it’s a large mindset shift that not many people discuss. I don’t even know if its common for thru-hikers, although I imagine it is.


The PCT taught me more than I ever thought it would, in unexpected ways. It taught me that determination and perseverance are only as achievable as the limits you put on them. If someone asked me if I had perseverance before the PCT? No. After? Hell ya. And fuck ton of it.

It taught me that my body is a machine and its resilient and it won’t let you down. It taught me about people and about how well you can get to know someone if you have all the time in the world. It taught me to open up. It taught me to share things I would never share before.

The PCT showed me that the trail provides. It’s a joke in the beginning but it’s true. It showed me friendship. It showed me true love. It showed me heartbreak. The list goes on.

I didn’t go on the PCT to find my “true self”, an “inner journey”, or for any sort of self-exploration. Really, that was the last thing I cared to get out of the experience. But inevitably, that’s what you get. With every experience, you find a new part of yourself that you didn’t know existed before. Be awake for those moments. Watch them grow. It’s about the journey, not the destination. But maybe don’t tell that to a thru-hiker.

To the PCT:

Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I can’t wait until we meet again.

 

 

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My PCT medal.

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Kearsarge>Forester Pass>Mount Whitney

I’m writing this four years after I hiked the PCT.

My previous post was from Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada, California. I have some notes I had written between Mammoth Lakes and Campo (yes, I realize this is the first time I have mentioned, I DID complete the PCT), but to be honest, they aren’t much. I have another post that I’ve written which will follow this one, outlining a lot of the loose ends. But for now, I wanted to share one of my favourite stories of the PCT.

September 30th, 46 miles.

This is the story of how me, Toto, Gaucha, and Colonel hiked Mt Whitney for sunrise. We hiked from Kearsarage Pass > Forester Pass > Mt. Whitney > Crabtree Meadows. We saw Forester at sunset and Mt Whitney at sunrise.

When you tell this to someone who knows the logistic geography of the PCT, you start to see the gears turn in their head. “But that means you––“. Yes.

After what felt like a day of living in a Subway restaurant, we got a late hitch to Kearsarge Pass. We hiked to the top and the four of us sat down to discuss an idea: how we would approach the next 50 miles.

We had two factors to satisfy: One, we wanted to see Mt Whitney at sunrise. Two, Toto wanted to summit Mt Whitney on his birthday, which was the next day. We only had one option: to, despite our late start (I believe it was already ~1:00pm), continue hiking. Hike Forester Pass (the tallest point on the PCT at 13,153’) at sunset. Hike through the night so we could get to the base of Mt Whitney (14,500′–– not technically on the PCT but it’s a popular side trip due to its easy accessibility from trail) for early morning. Hike up Mt Whitney to see the sunrise on Toto’s birthday.

Honestly, I don’t know if that puts into perspective how insane this journey was. It was probably stupid to do. It was a spontaneous idea. We hadn’t prepared or thought it through overly well. We would only do it if all four of us were onboard. And we all were.

One of my fondest memories of the PCT was Forester Pass, which is funny, because I don’t think anyone else in our group felt too keen about that particular pass. I remember the insanely beautiful, daunting sky casting its purple-pink light across the shadows of the mountains. Even though we mainly kept between ourselves (or maybe that was just me), the energy between us was so high. There was excitement and determination in the air of the journey ahead of us. I think that was why this pass felt so special to me. I felt like Frodo in the fires of Mount Doom.

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Forester Pass at 4,009m (13,150ft)

That night however, was miserable. It was the last time I would eat instant mash potatoes on trail. It was freezing cold, at midnight or so. We were all pretty dejected and did anything we could to distract ourselves. Singing, playing music. Probably asking silly, hypothetical questions. My headlamp strap had broke but the light from the others was enough to help me through.

We finally stopped to eat. I ripped open a pack of instant mash, mixed in the cold water (stoveless, for the win), and stirred it. My hands were so cold I could barely move and I was frustrated and I was hungry. One spoonful of the gritty mixture was enough to make me never eat instant mash on trail again. To this day I’m still too scared to try it.

Somehow we got through the night. We climbed Mt Whitney. Colonel and Toto went ahead and me and Gaucha trailed behind. I remember being at the base and it was still pitch dark and I was thinking, “fuck, we still have so much to do”. We didn’t have much time either. The sun would be up soon and we would have done all of that for nothing.

I remember that climb felt like I was being dragged slowly up the mountain by a rope. My body felt like it was in autopilot. I wish I remember more from it.

We got to the top, and naturally, it was freezing. We took our pictures and quickly ran into the hut to warm ourselves. We sang Happy Birthday to Toto and gave him the tiniest bottle of whiskey and––his favourite trail snack, a donette, with a candle in it. We hiked down and all I can remember now is how tired I was. At this point, we wanted to do a 50 mile day (a common challenge on the PCT). We were almost there but we were all dragging and in desperate need of sleep. It was a pathetic sight to be honest. We decided to stop at Crabtree Meadows. I remember everything looking so dreamy, but now I wonder if that was the lack of sleep. I’m sure we all slept good that night.

So, to summarize; we did 46 miles. Forester Pass at sunset, Mt. Whitney at sunrise. One of the most epic sections of the PCT. The only way to do it is to hike through the night.

In retrospect, I would never do it again. But I’m glad we did.

Tuolumne Meadows to Mammoth Lakes

September 21st, 23 miles.

Since our last stretch was a longer carry, we decided to split our next one up. It just wasn’t worth it. The extra weight slowed us down as much as stopping into town would have and our bodies didn’t need the added stress.

Julie and her boyfriend drove us back to the trail in the morning. It was still a bit gloomy out, but at least it wasn’t raining. Today we hit Donohoe Pass (el. 11,074′), which was one of the more dramatic passes of the Sierra. The climb wasn’t too bad, and once we got to the top the view was magical.

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In the valley.

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View descending Donohoe Pass. Notice how the trail has “stairs”. These are found often in the Sierra. They are meant for horses and are actually kind of annoying to hike on because of the awkward spacing.

While descending, I could definitely feel the air getting colder. We were trying to figure out a place to camp without being at super high elevation, but it wasn’t looking too possible. We got to a spot early on to prevent camping any higher. We were at about 9670′ and it was so cold that we had to set up our tents to eat dinner in and keep warm. We ended up sharing our tents so that the extra body heat would keep us warm. We got to camp really early so it was hard to fall asleep in daylight, especially while trying to keep warm.

 

September 22nd, 13 miles. 

We woke up to a cold morning and packed up fast. The guys were ready before me and Gaucha so they had a bit of a head start. We had a small climb up Island Pass (el. 10,335′) and met the guys at Thousand Island Lake for breakfast. Would have been a good swim spot if it wasn’t so cold. But what a gorgeous view!

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Thousand Island Lake

We kept hiking and finally warmed up. We got the Agnew Meadows Trailhead and ate lunch, then continued on. We were all hiking separately today doing our own thing. I mainly listened to music but I was feeling really good.

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We got a view of the Devils Postpile which was pretty cool. We continued hiking and arrived to Red’s Meadow. We found a ride into Mammoth right away from a lady named Laurie. Her and her husband dropped us off and we got a bite to eat at a Mexican restaurant in town, then did our resupply. Mammoth was a really cool town and it would have been an awesome place to hangout, had we had the time.

We weren’t planning on staying but by the time we did our resupply, it was pretty late, so we decided to spend the night. We stealth camped at the campground in town and decided to head out early in the morning to get a good start to our day.

 

 

South Lake Tahoe to Tuolumne Meadows

September 15th, 14 miles. 

Today we woke up, filled up on breakfast, checked out of the motel and bussed to Lake of the Sky Outfitters to get some last minute gear.

We hung out for a while and then went outside to get a hitch. Our hitch situation wasn’t looking good, but luckily a women saw us and offered to drive us, saving us some trouble. She was very sweet and super outdoorsy so we had lots to talk about.

We got back to the highway trailhead and got to hiking. This next section is a 6 day carry, and since we all ran out of food last time, we made sure to pack lots. We are also carrying the bear canisters which added extra weight. All of our packs are huge and sooo heavy. We weren’t going too fast that’s for sure.

We had a super steep incline to start and the trail was kicking our ass. We could all feel the impact of the extra weight. Our pace was about 2.5 miles an hour and we were taking more frequent breaks.

We got to camp just before the trailhead at Highway 88 and threw our packs off right away. Colonel couldn’t find his new stove and was thinking he might of forgot it at the outfitters. He wanted to go back to get it, so he decided to hike back, hitch into town, and try and meet back up with us the next day.

We also noticed how much earlier it’s getting darker too. Might have to start waking up earlier. Lots of new changes for this section!

 

 

September 16th, 23 miles.

Last night was definitely a colder night, we all woke up chilly. It’s going to be like this throughout the whole Sierra. Hoping that Colonel can get a hitch back and meet up with us.

It’s been a real struggle with these packs. We stop almost every 3 miles for a quick break to relieve our bodies. Our pace is so much slower.

I was moving faster than the others this morning. We had some pretty big climbs. Once I got to the top of the big climb, I saw Mr. Z there having a snack. The view was worth stopping for, so I sat to enjoy it. The others caught up shortly after.

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We all hiked together for the rest of the day. It went by slow. My pack has really been bugging me because it’s too big and now with the extra weight it has become a problem. By the end of the day my feet were really starting to hurt. Between the steep climbs, elevation gains and heavy packs, there is a lot more impact on your body and it’s definitely noticeable. It will just take some time to get used to.

We were supposed to hike 4 more miles today but Toto’s ankles are really bothering him, which isn’t good. We made camp a bit early and wrote a note for Colonel and left it on trail so he doesn’t miss us. We made a fire and went to bet shortly after.

Today was definitely a slow one and had some of us feeling down, but it’s only the first day of this section and we’re still getting used to things. Gotta stay positive!

 

September 17, 25 miles.

Another cold morning! We woke up to see Colonel camped with us which was great! He found his stove AND got Toto an ankle brace which seemed to help his ankles.

Today was another tough day with lots of climbs. We hiked close together and told each other stories and asked each other questions like usual. Mr. Z caught up with us later in the morning too.

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We were taking slightly longer breaks today. We stopped for a shorter lunch and carried on. After lunch I was feeling really sick and nauseous. We had a big climb too so that didn’t help.

We still had about 6 miles to camp and it was getting late, so we decided to eat early and continue hiking. We ran into Nuthatch and Ben, two hikers I had saw in Washington several times at the start! I was so excited to reconnect with them! They decided to flip flop because they had to get off trail and knew they wouldn’t make it into the Sierras in time. It was so nice to catch up with them. The PCT is weird in the sense that, you could easily never see someone again who you just spent days with. When you separate, you realize that could be the last time goodbye.

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We continued hiking and Goucha and Colonel both started feeling nauseous too. We were thinking it is either food or the altitude, maybe both. We stopped at a site 2.8 miles before where we had planned to camp. It was already dark anyways and we’d be hiking for another hour. Plus we didn’t want to push our limits with everyone not feeling great.

It’s the second night we cut our miles short but it’s been okay. Take it as it comes.

 

September 18th, 22 miles

Today I was feeling nauseous again. I wasn’t sure if it was from the elevation or what. This morning was gorgeous though, we walked through some beautiful forest. We had lunch at a really nice camp spot by Carson River. It would have been the perfect place to camp, so at least we were lucky enough to eat lunch here.

Getting up Sonora Pass was a bit of a struggle. Toto’s shin splits were still bugging him so we both trailed behind for the most part. We finally got to the top of Sonora Pass which was a pretty big deal for us. This was the Sierra!

We stopped at the top to have a snack and enjoyed the view! We continued hiking and made our way to the trailhead at Hwy 108. We had the option to go to Kennedy Meadows North but didn’t need to. We hung out at the trailhead for a bit and got to talking to the Christian Motorcycle Club who was having a big barbecue (lol). Mr. Z caught up with us shortly after. The Motorcycle Club shared their leftovers with us which was super sweet and we ended up hanging out here a lot long than we had expected.

We finally decided to hike out. There was  a lot of uphill ridge walk but the scenery was very different so it didn’t seem so bad.

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The sun started to set and the sky lit up pink and it was absolutely beautiful. This was when it really hit me that we were in the Sierra! The rest of our hike today would include LONG downhill switchbacks, which was the perfect way to enjoy the sunset. The switchbacks were so long but it was really cool to see how they cut down the mountain and into the valley.

Me and Colonel chatted for the most part of today. We finally got into camp. Tomorrow we would be entering Yosemite National Park so I was super stoked for the day to come. Yosemite was what initally sparked my interest to hike the PCT!

 

September 19th, 16 miles. 

Today was such an awesome day! We met Checkerboard Red, another thru hiker, but he passed us quickly. We also hit a pretty big milestone (quite literally!!!!) as we hit the 1000 mile mark!!

We entered Yosemite and the scenery drastically changed. How gorgeous was it! And such a beautiful sunny day it was. We got to Dorothy Lake and knew we HAD to stop to lunch here. Mr. Z was with us and we all went in for a swim. We ate lunch, laid in the sun, and ended up having a long nap (oops!)… no regrets though.

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Dorothy Lake

We mainly all hiked solo for the rest of the day. I kind of got in some bad headspace and was having a bad mental day. It was such a beautiful day and we were hiking through some beautiful rocky, forest so I didn’t want it to effect me, but it was. Gaucha caught up to me and we hiked together and talked a lot which helped take my mind off things.

We camped at Stubblefield Canyon which was a super nice open area right by a creek. Gaucha made her first fire on trail and we all enjoyed a lot of rest time as we ate dinner and watched it turn dark. We all shared a Backpackers Pantry dessert which was actually delicious. We watched the stars. Turned out to be a perfect good night.

There are inevitably going to be bad mental days on trail. You just have to tell yourself its only one day and that tomorrow will be better… because it will!

 

September 20th, 21 miles.

Everyday in the Sierra you are introduced to bigger, more beautiful scenery. Mr. Z was still hiking with us and in the morning we conquered Seavey Pass (el. 10,106′) and Benson Pass (el. 9128′)-two of the smaller passes in the Sierra. We hit some absolutely gorgeous scenery.

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Everything in the Sierra was so grand!

 

Later in the afternoon we met a section hiker named Katie who had already set up camp even though it was super early. We convinced her to pack up and hike on with us! I struggled on the uphills for the rest of the day. We all hiked as a group and carried on with lots of conversation, getting to know Katie.

We saw the most unbelievable sunset and all stopped to take it in and snap a few photos. So incredible, it didn’t even look real!

It started getting dark and we needed to find a place to camp. We just got down to the meadow near Matterhorn Creek and found a spot that was semi-sheltered to camp. We all set up and enjoyed another night around the fire.

 

September 21st, 19 miles. 

We woke up today and the whether wasn’t looking too great. It held off all morning but soon enough it started to rain, so we geared up. Me, Katie, and Gaucha hiked together for most of the morning which was nice. Our girl to boy ratio was 3:3 which was pretty rare! Female company was refreshing when most hikers were male.

It rained quite a bit today which kind of sucked, but I didn’t mind too much. We were hiking on the John Muir Trail and it was absolutely stunning! I wish it hadn’t been raining so I could have taken more pictures. So many colours–– strong greens and so many lovely red wildflowers. We passed a few day hikers even though the weather was shitty.

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I was on a bit of a roll today and me and Katie got a bit ahead of the others. We couldn’t wait to get to Tuolumne Meadows for warm food! We passed Tuolumne Falls which was amazing! It was a shame it was cold out and we couldn’t go swimming in it. It would have been a perfect lunch spot.

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We finally got to Tuolumne Meadows and I headed straight to the Post Office to see if my sleeping pad was there. IT WAS!!!! FINALLY!!!!!! I was SO excited to finally have something between me and the ground, especially in the Sierra where the weather was going to be much cooler.!Maybe the first time USPS hasn’t let me down! I then headed to the burger place and ordered a meal. I saw down and Colonel joined, followed by the others. I ended up eating two burgers because they were SO good and I was so hungry.

While me and Colonel were in line to eat, we started talking to a lovely lady named Judie and her husband Frank. They didn’t know much about the PCT or thru hiking, but Judie gave us her number and told us to give her a call when we get to White Pass. They lived in Ridgecrest, the nearest town by that section of the trail. She said we were welcome to stay, clean up and get a warm meal with her! Awesome!

Katie parted ways with us along with Mr. Z, as he was going down to Yosemite Valley so we could do the entire John Muir trail. I had originally wanted to go down to the valley but didn’t for a few reasons. 1. I didn’t want to separate from the group, 2. The weather wasn’t pleasant anyways, 3. I knew I’d be back to Yosemite at some point in my life and the valley itself can be a whole other trip and 4. It was starting to get time to push through the Sierra… the weather was already starting to turn so waiting any longer might be dangerous.

We hung out for a while trying to wait out the rain but it looked like it just wasn’t going to stop. We all talked and decided it might be best to stay in town for the night. None of us wanted to hike in the rain and since our stuff was already wet, camping in Tuolumne wouldn’t do much for us.

We tried hitching into Lee Vining which ended up being a bit of a challenge. We thought the sight of drenched backpackers might get us a hitch easier, but apparently not. We started asking people in the parking lot of Tuolumne. We found a car that could fit two of us, so me and Gaucha got in just as the guys were getting a hitch.

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We got into Lee Vining and me and Gaucha started calling motels but EVERYTHING was booked. We didn’t know what to do, when all of the sudden a passerby-er asked us if we needed a place to stay. Her and her boyfriend had rented a cabin with two extra rooms. She thought it was silly to let them go to waste so she welcomed us to stay with them. Amazing!!!

Once the guys got there we went grocery shopping and made Julie and her boyfriend dinner, as a thank you. After dinner we played some cards and then went to sleep.They were heading to the valley the next day so offered to drive us early back to trail, which worked out perfect!

South Lake Tahoe

We got into South Lake Tahoe and naturally the first thing on our minds was food. We asked our hitch where a good place to eat was and he dropped us off at a restaurant named Ernies (There are two restaurants across the street from each –– one named Bernies, and one named Ernies. I believe we ate at Ernies but I can’t remember! Of course we all ordered a TON of food and hot drinks, since we were cold and soaked from hitching in the rain. We finally filled up and headed to Lake of the Sky Outfitters, where we were hoping to figure out what our plans were in town.

Lake of the Sky is an awesome place for hikers. They are incredibly hiker friendly, super accommodating, and very helpful. We hung out for a bit in their hiker lounge to figure out some logistics and then went off to the motel we booked. We all were super stoked to shower, clean up and just relax in a bigger town than most others on the PCT.

Toto’s shin splits were really bothering him so we decided a full zero the following day would be the best idea for all of us. This was my original intention so I was glad the others were onboard. The full day of rest was definitely going to be needed.

We went grocery shopping, did our resupply and did some chores back at the motel. Then we went to Harah’s Casino for a buffet dinner where we ran into Beanstalk, who we hadn’t seen since Donner Pass. He joined our table and we all took full advantage of the buffet (maybe a little too much). We could barely move but managed to make our way back to our room, where we just watched TV for the night. It was super relaxing and we were stoked for another day of full rest tomorrow!

 

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Today we woke up and explored South Lake Tahoe a bit. I had to get a new bear canister because mine got lost in the mail (my luck with USPS has been a disaster this entire trip). We all bought a few pieces of replacement gear which was needed at this point of the hike. After we went to the movies. It was fun to do a real life activity, which probably sounds silly. But that is the value of everyday life that the PCT shows you. We saw Hell or High Water which was a great film. We all thoroughly enjoyed it.

After that we went to grab a bite to eat. We went to Basecamp which had a really cute patio with fairy lights and live music. Basecamp gives hikers each a personal sized gourmet pizza. Sooooo good!

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After a few beers we went back to the motel and drank some wine and watched TV. We would be hiking out in the morning as soon as possible.

Sierra City to South Lake Tahoe

This is where my blog slowly falls apart… I stopped blogging/journalling as much when I met up with other people. I am basically posting by memory and with what little I had recorded!

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Our big group of SOBO’s woke up and started our day together. We were all a little scattered to start, while everyone was still waking up and getting in their groove. I was a little ahead of the group and saw my first bear on trail. So many people have been asking me if I have seen any wildlife and I really hadn’t seen much until now. The bear was fairly close but sprinted off as soon as he saw me.

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Hiking in a big group was different. I was really enjoying it, but I could not imagine doing it for the long haul. One misconception I think people have when you say “I am hiking with someone” is that you are actually hiking with them, at all times. A lot of the time when you are hiking with someone, you both go at your own pace. One may be ahead of the other for a bit of time, one might stop for a break or a snack or a bathroom break. You are not always side by side with one another.

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We all kind of flip flopped for most of the day, because of those reasons. It was nice to have so many different people to talk to and so many different things to talk about. If you weren’t vibing with one person you had someone else you could go to. The one thing that was difficult with this large of a group was the fact that there is just SOO many people and everyone has different needs. It’s hard to account for each person.

It was a beautiful day and I was really feeling good. Just before it was about to get dark, we entered some beautiful forest scenery with some amazing rock. It was super unique and reminded me of Marble Mountain. I really hate hiking in the dark so I picked up the pace in front of everyone. There was a beautiful sunset and not long after it was pitch dark. You could feel the days getting shorter for sure.

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I finally got to Peter Grubb Hut, where we were camping that night. I was soooo hungry and couldn’t wait to eat, but I managed to hold myself until everyone else got there. We all made dinner together, talked, laughed, played music with the guitar in the hut and sang. It was such a fun night, one I definitely won’t forget on trail.

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A few of us slept in the loft of the hut and others slept outside. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to stay with the group or do my own thing, but I was definitely enjoying my time with everyone so far!

 

8 miles 

So today we woke all woke up, started hiking, and realized we would be crossing a rest stop at I-80 and Donner Pass Ski Ranch which immediately got us excited for town food. We had not planned on stopping there but of course everyone was down for a good meal.

We got to the rest area while was only about 6 miles from where we camped. We looked up the Ski Ranch to see if it would be open during this season and it looked like it would be… but not for another few hours. We were all so excited to get town food and it was a little disappointing that we would be passing through while it was closed… so we ended up taking a much longer break than we intended… which allowed us to get to Donner at opening. Funny how that worked out!

While we approached the Ski Ranch, there were some good rock climbing spots we scoped out. Colonel is a huge rock climber and had been teaching us a lot about it, so we put our skills to test. It was fun to do something other than hiking!

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Rock climbing at Donner Pass

We finally arrived and everyone was super stoked to get there. We all received a free beer on the house and then Toto ordered a round of tequila shots for everyone. We were really excited about the beer and the shots that we forgot about food… safe to say the alcohol hit everyone pretty hard. Me and Goucha ordered another round of shots for the group, followed by Mr. Z, and before we knew it we all had a few beers and a lot of shots in our bodies. We got some food which helped sober everyone up but everyone was still very drunk and not too ready to hike yet. We all took naps outside on the patio, telling ourselves we would hike out soon… that didn’t happen.

Pippy and Gramps got picked up by their friend who lives in Truckee, so we said goodbye to them, although we were sure we would run into them again soon. Beanstalk and Mr. Z decided to hike out, but the rest of us needed a bit more time to recover.

FINALLY we hiked out, which wasn’t all that good of an idea. We made it about 0.5 miles and decided it was a good place to camp. Goucha went right to sleep, while me, Toto, and Colonel had a small fire before bed.

Today definitely wasn’t what we had expected, but it was so hilarious and another incredibly memorable day on trail. These are the moments that make your hike such an individually, unique experience. Cherish them.

 

27 miles 

We were a little upset with ourselves for not hiking much yesterday, so we wanted to make up for lost miles today. In the morning we passed through a lot of ski lifts and entered Granite Chief Wilderness. We had some views of Tinker Knob and McKinney Bay as well.

We ended up camping earlier then we wanted at Barker Pass trailhead because it looked like a good spot. It was sheltered from the wind, which had been quite aggressive today. We set up camp and headed over to the picnic tables to eat. Eating dinner at a table was a nice change! While we were eating, a man came back from a day hike with his dog and gave us all a beer. We chatted for a bit, he left, and then we all went to sleep.

 

26 miles

Today was an awesome day on trail. We woke up a littler chilly, as it was a windy night. The wind kept up all day. It was feeling a lot cooler than usual, but things warmed up in the afternoon. We entered Desolation Wilderness, which has been by far one of the most unique wilderness’ of the trail.

We ate lunch at Middle Velma Lake which was absolutely gorgeous. It looked like we were in another world. We went swimming which we soon regretted since the wind had picked up again and made it impossible to stay warm. It was such a lovely spot. The wind got so bad that we ended up cutting out lunch short and continued hiking.

 

The views all day were so incredible. Everything was so unique. There were so many lakes which all had really cool outlets and little islands. One of my favourite spots on trail. We hiked up to Dicks Pass (el. 9375) which was the highest we had been on trail yet. We hung out for a bit, proud of this accomplishment, and then kept going.

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We hiked on, passing a few more lakes. We hiked as a group for the most part and conversed a lot. We wanted to hike further, but when we got to Aloha Lake, we knew we had to camp here. Absolutely stunning!!!! The lake was massive with so many beautiful camp spots and a ton of islands everywhere. Definitely on my top 5 camp spots along the PCT. For anyone hiking the PCT, I would definitely make a note to camp here, or at least take a lunch break if the timing didn’t work out. We were also here for sunset which was so stunning.

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Aloha Lake at sunset.

We made camp and hung out for a while since we got here early. We made a plan to wake up extra early tomorrow (which none of us were excited about). We would be hitting town and wanted to get there as soon as possible, but still had a few miles to hike in the AM.

6 miles +some

Last night I was sleeping, when all of the sudden I felt some cold drops on my face. I thought I saw a few flashes of lightening, so I instantly got up and put my rainfly on. And good thing I did, because it started SNOWING like crazy. So unexpected!!! We woke up in the dark with snow covering the ground. I was at first a little mad, because I didn’t want to face the cold, especially so early in the morning. But it ended up being SO beautiful! It was so quiet and gave a new sense of solitude.
We started hiking and got a little lost since we couldn’t see the trail. Colonel’s GSP wasn’t working because of the weather, so we whipped out the compass and maps. We found our way back pretty quickly. We couldn’t believe the snow this morning. The views were incredible.

It warmed up a bit as the sun came out and it ended up being a beautiful day. It took us a lot longer to get the highway than we planned. We passed Lake of the Woods and Echo Lake.

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The sun coming out at Echo Lake.

Echo Lake looked like a beautiful spot I would want to come back to! They had cabins and lake activities and obviously lots of hiking around. Its a shame they weren’t very hiker friendly (so we just passed on through).

We finally got to the highway and hitched into town. We finally make it to South Lake Tahoe which means we were now entering the Sierra–– one of the most grand sections of the trail!

Update. 

I haven’t posted in a while so I feel an update is needed, especially because there are a few things I haven’t talked about that I should.

1. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but ever since Oregon I have gone by a new trail name, Bright Eyes. There were too many Old Schools on trail which was causing a lot of confusion in the registers! I got the name for my “overly” positive thinking, specifically when talking about milage.

2. A lot of people have been asking me about wildlife. I’ve only seen one bear and two rattlesnakes, all in Northern California.

3. I have been finding it very hard to blog for many reasons; I don’t have service often, I don’t necessarily enjoy it, I’m too tired by the end of the day to write, I am always trying to conserve my phone battery, and I just don’t have time when I’m in towns. With that being said, I do want to be able to look back and read about each day I’ve had on trail, so I am trying my best to write something each day. It’s a great way to keep people updated but it’s a lot of work, especially when I don’t enjoy doing it!

4. Incase you didn’t realize, I decided to go back to thru hiking after a little flip flopping and backtracking! I should have mentioned this much earlier but it has constantly slipped my mind!

5. I have decided to finish my hike with Toto, Colonel and Goucha, as long as the logistics match up! I have enjoyed every minute hiking with them and it’s been so nice to be with a group I enjoy.

I am currently in Lone Pine right now and continuing South. Thanks to everyone for the constant support, and I’ll try my best to keep this updated when I have the time!

Belden to Sierra City

September 5, 20 miles

Last night I didn’t have the best sleep for two reasons. One, my camp spot wasn’t very flat (I NEED MY SLEEPING PAD!!), and two, there was a train that went through Belden probably 3-4 times that night. So loud!

I woke up around 6:30am and started packing up camp. I went to the restaurant, although it didn’t open until 8, to use the wifi and to get some stuff done, including locating my sleeping pad!!

Me and Wafflecone waited until 8 for breakfast and then went on in. We waited until 9 to get services (we heard a lot of things about this place being slow, they were right!). We were both impressed with our meals considering we had low expectations.


Because of the slow service we didn’t get out until 10:15ish. We hit the trail right away, knowing we had a big climb ahead of us. We would be climbing from 2217ft to 6231ft in only 6 miles.
The climb really didn’t end up being that bad and it went by fast. We had some gorgeous views of open mountains once we got to the top.

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We continued the day, leap frogging each other often. We both took a break at the top of Mt Pleasant which was beautiful! There were tons of awesome campsites around that would have been great to camp at.
We both didn’t really know how far we wanted to go today. I have been leaving towns with no set goal of how far I want to go that day. Town days are hard because you never know how long they will take. I thought the climb was going to take more time than it did, so I was already going to do more than I had expected.
I had picked out a campsite I wanted to camp at and Wafflecone said he was thinking the same area. I got to the spot and wasn’t a huge fan. A lot of the designated sites are right beside/connected to the trail, which I don’t like. I continued on, hoping to find another one not too far. It wasn’t looking too promising, and right when I started to regret skipping the last site, I found a much nicer one. It was bigger and further from the trail so it had more privacy. Perfect!

I figured Wafflecone was going to camp behind me, so I didn’t expect to see him tonight. I got to camp around 7:15, set up and ate dinner.
I wasn’t expecting to do 20 miles today, so it looks like I might get to Sierra City sooner than I planned!

DAY 58: 27 miles
Usually I just eat breakfast quick in my tent, but this morning I took my time and ate outside. It was nice to not rush the morning.
Today was a little uneventful. In the morning I reached Lookout Rock, where I took a small break. It was such a nice relaxing spot with a great view. Wafflecone arrived as I was packing up, but I knew I’d see him later.


I was hiking really fast today. I had wanted to eat lunch at Middle Fork Feather River, but I figured I would want to eat before then.
The climb down to the river was about 3000ft. The worst part was right when we reached the river, we’d be climbing right back up. I ended up getting to the river at a decent time, made my lunch, and went for a swim. The water was freezing but it was nice to rinse off. I laid in the sun, ate and relaxed. Wafflecone showed up and did the exact same. I read for a bit, taking a long lunch and then finally decided to conquer the climb out.


This section wasn’t as bad as I expected. Most of the day was forest without any views.

I got to camp around 6:30pm. It was a really nice, spacious spot. I set up and ate, then read for a bit. I usually hike until 7:00-7:30pm, so it was nice getting to camp earlier tonight.
DAY 58: 25 miles
I took my time with breakfast again this morning. I started hiking, feeling a little slow but didn’t think it would be a problem today.
Today would look a lot like yesterday–– a few big climbs in and out and then some rolling hills. I really didn’t like these climbs because it was mainly just forest without any rewarding views of the mountains. I was currently in Plumas National Forest which has been one of my least favourites so far.
I felt slow all day taking lots of breaks, but got to my lunch spot faster than I expected. I ate at the West Branch Beartrap Creek. I took another longer break because I knew I could afford it.
I continued on with a long incline. I was tired of these 2000-3000ft dips down, just to climb right back up again! On the bright side I was ending my day at 7500′ with some awesome terrain and views.


Unfortunately my campsite was in the forest so I didn’t have a spectacular view, but I didn’t mind. I was so excited to eat when I got to camp, so I set up fast. The last two days I could really start to notice my hunger growing. I think it’s from all the vertical!

I got to camp SUPER earlier tonight, around 6:00pm. I could have easily kept hiking, as for yesterday, but I didn’t feel the need. I had a campfire and read a lot which was nice. Tomorrow I’ll be in Sierra City! The elevation doesn’t look too crazy so hopefully I can get in there as soon as possible!

DAY 59: 17 miles
Today I woke up and got moving so I could get into Sierra City as soon possible. About halfway there I stopped to take a snack where another SOBO, Toto, ran into me. We talked for a bit and his other friends, Colonel and Beanstalk caught up. We all hiked into town together. It was super nice being with a bigger group, the conversation definitely made the time pass.

We had a beautiful hike down into town with lots of ridge walk. It was only a mile and a half off trail to town, where we went straight to the General Store. Sierra City is famous for there one pound burger which was huge. We all got food and sat down to relax. Mr. Z, Pippy, Gramps and Goucha all joined up eventually (all other SOBOS). We had lots of fun hanging out as a big group!

one pound burger everyone got at the General Store!

We all got our re-supplys and sorted our packs, then headed out. We camped right outside of the town where we had a huge site right by the river. We all swam, washed up and had a campfire. Such a good way to end the day!!

8 SOBOS leaving Sierra City… a rare sight!!!

Burney Mountain Guest Ranch to Belden Town

DAY 51: 0 miles!!! August 30
I woke up and went to the ranch where Linda was cooking me breakfast. It was wonderful! Homemade whole grain waffles and a veggie omelette. Mmmmmm!


Right after that I headed straight to the showers. I was so excited to shower with SOAP finally!!! I did laundry as well and was so excited to have everything clean!! The little things ❤️ The ranch also had a piano which I have been missing INCREDIBLY, so I played that which felt so good. This place was perfect!
I went into town to see if my sleeping pad had been shipped in, as it was supposed to be (my sleeping pad has been broken since almost day 1, I’ve been working with Thermarest to get a new one sent but it’s been a process). Nope, no package. Guess it will be another week or two without a sleeping pad. At this point I feel like I don’t even need one since its been so long.
I got back to the ranch and took care of some stuff, uploaded pictures, blogged, etc. It was getting late and there was still a lot I needed/wanted to get done still, so I decided I’d take a full zero instead of a Nero. This was the place to do it. It was so homey and welcoming.
I spent the rest of the day relaxing and getting everything sorted. For dinner, Linda made me a black bean burrito which was unreal! It was so good to have some home cooked meals with nutrients and vitamins!!! Yum yum yum.

I went to bed a little late but had plans to get up early and get back on the trail!

DAY 52: 24 miles, August 31



I woke up early today, packed up, said goodbye and thank you to Linda, then got back on the trail.
Today I would be on Hat Creek Rim, a dreaded part of the PCT that all the NOBOS complained to me about. It is dreaded for two reasons; One, being a long, waterless stretch of 50 miles (not including the cache). And two, because of the full sun exposure. A lot of people were saying they night hiked it or did a long day of it just to get it done with. Honestly, it wasn’t bad at all. The rim was gorgeous because on west side you got a view of Mt Lassen and on the other side, stretched out by a huge valley, you got a view of Mt Shasta. Amazing!


It was pretty hot today but the rim had a lot more shade than I expected. NOBOS were being dramatic!! I got to the cache which was turned into a cool hangout space. There was gallons and gallons of water, snacks, and portable phone chargers. I love the trail Angels!!!!!!


There were four other Northbounders there too. I ended up taking a long lunch there and finally decided to leave so I didn’t miss the sunset at camp.
I was really surprised how fast today went by, especially considering I took a zero the day before. I think it was my first day on the PCT feeling that way. I took my time all day, stopped at a bunch of view spots, took a long lunch and didn’t push at all.

I got to camp and was really really happy with it! It had a beautiful view off the rim, but the site was a little hidden in a small forest with lots of space. It would have been a really great site for a big group of hikers. I setup camp, ate and watched the sunset which seemed to last forever. I had the perfect view. I can’t believe so many people night hiked this section, there was so much beauty missed!!


I had a small fire afterwards and then off to bed. Another great day on trail 🙂

DAY 53: 25 miles, September

Well, I think yesterday went by so fast because today made up for it. What a slow day I had.
I woke up freezing which was very surprising, especially considering the elevation was only around 4500′. I did however have a really good sleep, which would be my first on trail. I slept in until 6:45am which I think is also the latest I’ve slept in since being out here!
I usually warm up once I pack up and start hiking, but today, that wasn’t the case! It was very windy and the sun was shining, but I still wanted to put on my puffy. I felt so silly because I knew later I’d be sweating, so I refrained. About 0.1 miles in I tripped pretty bad and fell on my knee (the same one as last time), and twisted my shoulder really weird. I kind of just laid there for a minute because everything hurt so bad. I was nervous about my shoulder but luckily it was fine once I moved it a bit. My knee hurt a lot and was a little scuffed up.
I kept hiking and got off the rim shortly. I had been taking sooo many breaks today and for some reason was so hungry, I was eating all of my snacks already. I didn’t know what was up today.
It took me a while but I finally got to the Subway Cave. The Subway Cave is a short trip just off the PCT to a lava tube that is approximately 1000 ft long. A lot of people skip it but it sounded really neat, and it is right off trail so you might as well!


It was nice and cool inside and as you walked into them it was complete darkness. Even with your flashlight on you could only see a few feet in front of you. Super eerie, I really enjoyed it.
I was only there for maybe a half hour and then continued hiking. I was approaching Old Station, a town right off the PCT with a population of about 50 people. I was debating if I wanted to stop in or not. I didn’t really need to, but felt the need to since it was right on trail. Since I was going so slow today, I thought it was a better idea just to keep rolling through.
My knee was hurting a lot today which also slowed me down. I ended up sitting about 5 feet away from the trail and taking a short nap. Talk about lazy today!
I continued through having to push myself. I tried listening to music and podcasts but nothing was helping. Just one of those days.

I also wasn’t looking forward to my camp spot, because it was in a burned area. There was another spot 2 miles south of it but there was a lot of bear sightings there, so I didn’t really want to camp there.
Overall, today was very flat. I entered Lassen National Park which was a gorgeous part of the trail. It was all forested area but it was very tidy and well kept. It was a nice section to walk through.


Soon enough, the forest turned into burned down forest. I kept taking breaks all day and got to my site just before 7. I was so ready to just set up camp, eat and go to bed.
Today was probably my least favourite day of California so far. It wasn’t bad, I just wasn’t feeling it. I felt like I spent more time breaking today than I did hiking. I find the days I sleep in are the days I feel slothy. Hope tomorrow is better!

DAY 54:
25 miles, September 2

Didn’t sleep the best last night, I was so cold! My alarm went off at 6 but it was still pitch dark, so back to bed! I woke up 20 minutes later to an incredible sunrise!!!


I packed up quick and started my day. I had plans on stopping in at Drakesbad Guest Ranch, as a lot of NOBOS recommended it, and, even though it has only been a few days, I could really use a good meal! I am so sick of backpacking food, I don’t know how I’m going to go another 2 months on it.
The problem with the Drakesbad was that they served breakfast for PCT hikers at 8:30am. I knew there was no way I was going to make that. Lunch wasn’t until 1:00pm, so I was kind of just playing it by ear.

I had a really great morning! I was happy to feel better than I did yesterday. I was hiking at a fast pace and felt good. About 2 miles past my site I saw Twin Lake, the one I wanted to camp at the night before but refrained because of bear warnings. My gosh was it beautiful!! And the campsites were perfect. I immediately regretted not camping there, even despite the bear! There were two other tents set up there when I passed this morning so I wouldn’t have been alone either. Darn.


My entire day was filled with some beautiful, beautiful forest. I had 10 miles to Drakesbad but it went by fast. I approached Warner Valley and loved the descent. It was so beautiful!


I got to Drakesbad around 10:30. They give PCT hikers discounts on there buffet meals, the only catch is they have to wait until after the meal hour for the leftovers. Lunch wasn’t until 1:00, which was such a long way away. But I had been looking so forward to a good, big meal I decided to wait. I had already done 10 miles this morning and another 15 was doable if I waited. As long as I could hike fast, which I didn’t doubt considering this morning.

Drakesbad would have been a really nice place to take a zero. The Warner Valley campground just outside of it was incredibly nice. The Ranch also had volleyball nets and I was wishing there were other hikers here to hang around with. There was definitely lots to do.

The Ranch offers PCT hikers free showers, and since I had the time I was obviously going to take one! It had only been two days since my last one, I was getting spoiled!

The showers there were SO NICE and I definitely took advantage. I had the longest shower but when I dried off I was STILL running off dirt. I wonder how long after my hike it will take for me to be completely clean again.

It felt sooo good to have clean hair especially! I sat outside and read until finally I got to eat. The lunch was delicious too! Lots and lots of salads with vegetables and fruit. These were the kinds of meals I needed! I loaded my plate up a ridiculous amount and ate every last bite. I was able to be out of there by 1:00pm, which was awesome because I could take my time hiking.

More beautiful forest to continue my day. I took a few breaks that I probably shouldn’t have, and realized I really better keep my pace up if I wanted to get to camp by 7:30pm.
The last 4 miles really went by slow. I got to camp which was right by a spring. The sites were right by a road and there was a huuuuge camp set up beside me. It looked like there were 6+ people camping there. They clearly were not there, and I assumed they had a vehicle and were gone for the day. I went to bed but was soon awakened by them returning to camp. Turns out it was only 2 guys.
Two more days until I’m in Belden!

DAY 55: 23 miles
Today was a bit of an exciting day because I was going to reach the PCT halfway marker! Wooo!

My neighbours woke me up being extra loud this morning. I went back to sleep until I saw daylight and then got up and on the trail by 7. I had wanted an earlier start so I could do as much miles today, then have less the day I get into Belden.

I felt good today but was I ever slow. I try not to listen to music or podcasts unless I’m really struggling, so I threw some on. Didn’t help.

Another exciting thing about today was that is was the Michigan season opener for college football. I had service on the trail to streamed the game. I was super stoked to listen to the game and hike, although it still didn’t help my pace.

I continued hiking when I FINALLY got to the halfway marker. I took photos and read a lot of the register notes. These were some awesome ones to read. What a milestone! But to be honest, it didn’t really feel that way. More like, this is only half?? I get why a lot of people quit after reaching this point.


I was so hungry so I ate right at the marker. Today had been super cloudy, probably the cloudiest day yet. I wore my long sleeve for most of the day.

I continued hiking hoping to pick up my pace. I felt like I really wasn’t getting anywhere today. I had a tent site picked out but I didn’t think I was going to make it that far. I didn’t mind. I just decided to keep hiking and I’ll camp where I camp.

The day really dragged out and kind of put me in a bad mood. I just wanted the next day. It’s hard not to let your mood effect you, especially when your mind has so much time to wander. I just kept telling myself it’s only one day. We all need bad days occasionally. And it wasn’t even a “bad day”.

I had a blister that developed today so I decided to change into my flip flops to let my feet breathe. It was a little hard to hike in them with the soft dirt. I had some really amazing views in the late afternoon. There was one spot on top of the mountain that was gorgeous. I was debating camping here even though it was only 5:30. I decided to carry on because I didn’t know what I would do with all that time, and I’d rather create an easier day for myself tomorrow.

I finally got to camp at the summit of Humboldt mountain. What an incredible view! I had the perfect camp spot.


What a great finish to a day like today. I set up camp quick and ate dinner, admiring the view. One of my favourite camp sites.

I’m glad today had a good finish. I really hope tomorrow is a good day and I can get to town. I have a feeling it might be another struggle!


DAY 56:
25 miles.

Last night I woke up at 1:00am wide awake. My muscles were so crampy so I stretched a bit. I was also really hungry which was weird, especially because I ate so much for dinner. I ate some of my oatmeal I had made for breakfast and went back to sleep.
I woke up around 6:15am and packed up camp. I couldn’t believe how cold the nights were getting. I’m wondering if I’m going to need warmer clothes for the Sierras.

I got back on trail and was hiking fast to this morning. Awesome. This morning consisted of some medium sized hills, and then about 12 miles of steep downhill, from 7000ft to 2000ft. I was hiking at a really good pace all day. I knew I’d end up getting to Belden sooner than I planned which was always nice. I took a short break at a creek for lunch and continued on.

A southbound sectioner, Wafflecone, caught up with me and we hiked together until town. We got there and I was so hungry. I bought my resupply and some snacks, then hung out for a bit. Belden is a very very small town, with a population of 13 apparently. It’s usually used for events. It’s been fun hearing everyone’s stories from Belden. People have crossed paths with some pretty crazy events and music festivals during their thru-hikes.


After hanging out and talking to some people from around town, we made camp near the water.

Etna to Burney Falls 

Day 43: 20 miles

I woke up pretty early so I could get as much done as possible and get back on the trail. Me, Bucket and Solar Body hung out at the City Park to charge and organize our stuff. I went to the Dollar General to buy a few more things of food, then went back and sorted my pack. We were walking out of town when we noticed a thrift store so we stopped in. Bucket found the perfect straw sun hat he had been wanting and I bought some fabric for 25 cents to make into a bandanna. It was definitely a good stop.

We walked further down the street when an old couple asked if we wanted a ride. Perfect! We didn’t even have to hitch. They were driving another hiker up so we all squished in the back.

Back on the trail again! Today actually went by fast and I was being super speedy for some reason. You can really feel how much towns revitalize you. By the end of the day my pace was even faster. I ran into a NOBO who said there was trail Magic a mile ahead by the interstate. Wooooo! Even more motivation to go faster.

I got to the road and there were about a dozen other hikers surrounding a picnic full of food. One of the NOBO hiker’s mom was following her son and his crew for the next week setting up trail magic for him and his friends. How awesome! It was such a great crew and I was having a blast hanging out with them. I was supposed to camp another three miles from the interstate with Bucket and Solar Body, but I told them I’d catch up with them tomorrow. I really wanted to take advantage of what would probably be my last interaction with a group of NOBOS.

The NOBOS really had me wishing I went North instead of South sometimes. It sounds like such a community and a big party, which I know I’d get sick of, but hearing about it made me a bit envious. But it’s crazy how different a NOBO hike is vs. a SOBO. That said, I don’t regret my SOBO decision at all!

We all set up camp on the helicopter pad hoping no one would need air lifted that night. We all chatted and joked and had such a lovely night. We had a clear view of the sky and saw tons of shooting stars.

I also found out that one of the girls in the group was the author of one of the blogs I had been following in order to plan my hike. I was so excited to meet her! So cool!!
Another one of my favourite nights on the PCT. I can’t describe how much happiness I have, especially on nights like this. Extremely thankful to have met this group and be able to spend the night with them. Love love love nights like this. Nothing will beat them.

Day 44: 34 miles

I woke up early and said goodbye to everyone. They were trying to get me to go NOBO with them which was tempting. I got on trail just before 6:00am and it was nice and cool thankfully!

I was surprised by today. It was extremely flat and made for an easy day. I was glad because I wanted to do 30 miles. When I looked at my map, there was a big gap between campsites, so I was either going to have to do more or less miles. I was gunna push for more!

I entered Trinity Alps Wilderness and met back up with Bucket and Solar Body. My pace was fast again because of the flat terrain I’m guessing.

It was definitely a long day. Near the end, there was lots of chunky rock terrain which was really starting to bug my feet. So close to camp though! The trail was pretty steep downhill and I rolled my ankle and fell on my knee, scuffing it up a bit. It was nothing bad but I’m just super happy my ankle was okay. That was the first time I had ever tripped or fallen on the PCT yet.

Finally got to camp after 34 miles. I set up and filtered some water, when the guys came. It was pretty late and I don’t like getting to camp that late, but I broke a new record for mileage so that was great. We made a campfire, ate dinner then fell asleep underneath another amazing sky full of stars.
Day 45: 27 miles

Today I woke up SO COLD. I slept in but started moving quick. Right away, I knew it was going to be a slow day. I wanted to get as much mileage in today as I could so I would have less tomorrow and could get into town sooner. It was another flat day for elevation so I knew it was doable.

I took tons of short breaks today and almost had a nap by a stream. For some reason I was so sleepy today and it was really slowing me down. I had some awesome views of Mt Shasta all day. Mt Shasta has been weird because you’ll see it and then it will disappear, and then reappear in the most random spot. It really has you wondering where the trail is taking you. It’s an odd perspective.

I entered Shasta Trinity Wilderness and was almost at camp. I got to Castle Crags National Forest which was stunning. The trees were so tall and stood so straight, covered in bright green moss. It was beautiful.

The last mile felt really long, which I hadn’t had in a while. I finally got to camp and it was worth it. We had a beautiful view of Mt Shasta and the mountains in the background. I got to camp around 6:30 which was awesome. I had lots of time to eat, relax, stretch and enjoy the view.

 

Day 46: 18 miles, +2 off trail, August 25

I woke up this morning to the most incredible view of the sunrise. It was so surreal I can’t even put it into words. I just laid in my sleeping bag and watched the darkness turn to light.

I finally packed up while the sun was still rising, and hiked with my eyes glued to the sky. I was going pretty slow at first because I was so mesmerized but then my pace picked up fast. I really wanted to get to town and I was kind of mad I had 18 miles to do, plus the 2 off trail to get to the camp.

I could feel myself slowing down but I kept pushing through. I finally got into Castella around 1:00pm. I needed food as soon as possible so I headed right to Ammaratis Market and bought Ben and Jerrys ice cream, a beer and a bag of chips. I sat right in the parking lot and ate because I knew I needed to do my resupply still, but didn’t want to walk back and forth from the camp.

I laid all my stuff out and cleaned out my pack, then went back to the market to buy my resupply. I was pretty disappointed with the market to be honest, because I had heard good things and they didn’t have much variety. I also expected some fresh fruit or vegetables and sandwiches. It was insanely expensive as well, probably my worst resupply yet.

I kind of wanted to leave and get back on trail, but I felt like I didn’t need to rush and needed to take a break in town. I went back to the Castle Craig’s campground which had a spot for PCT hikers for only $3 which included a shower.


I took my shower, set up camp and then three NOBOS came to join–– Chocolate Milk, Hoot, and Blur. We had a fire and Hoot had a guitar and sang. We started a massage chain which was a wonderful idea and much needed. We finally went to bed and called it a night.
Day 47: 20 miles, August 26

Plans to wake up early…. guess what happened? I saw all the other guys still sleeping when my alarm went off and decided to sleep in too. What was the rush? I finally got up, packed up and got on the trail.

The ranger at Castle Crags State Park told me a better side trail to get on the PCT. It was not better. It was longer and I ended up backtracking a little which was frustrating, but it could have been worse I guess.

I finally got on the PCT, crossed a railroad track and the Sacramento River. My pace was incredibly slow today and I took a lot of breaks. I wasn’t feeling it today.

There was a lot of downhill into some lower elevation. I didn’t really care how much mileage I did today but ended up doing 20. Anything under 20 isn’t enough, even my body wanted to do more today but I said no!

I got to camp just after West Trough Creek, and saw Heartattack (another SOBO) and a NOBO at the site. I joined them, ate dinner, chatted for a bit, then went to bed.
Hoping tomorrow I’m not so sluggish!

 

Day 48: 27 miles, August 27

I swear one day I’ll wake up at my 5:30 alarm. Not today. I got on trail at about 6:30am feeling a bit better than yesterday already. I took a lot of breaks again, usually plopping right on the trail hoping that nobody would cross. All the NOBOS are basically through, I’m only seeing maybe one or two a day.

Today I went down to almost 2000′, which was really weird. I don’t like being this low! There was a lot of vertical today but I was happy to finally start going uphill towards the late afternoon. I passed a beautiful river but didn’t stop because there was too many people around. It was the most gorgeous colour though.

I sat at a creek and ate lunch, not taking too long. Since I was so low in elevation, the views today sucked. It was all brushy forest, with a lot of overgrown brush blocking the trail. I just wanted back in the mountains.

No matter what, everyday I feel rushed. I always want to get to camp as early as I can and just relax for the rest of the day. It was about 3:30pm and I only had 7 miles left. When I realized I had time, I took a bit longer break than I should have, then got back going.

There was lots of incline and I was finally back up to almost 6000′. That’s better! I enjoyed the ridgeway although there was still a lot of brush. I got to my campsite around 7, kind of wanting to keep hiking because of how bright it was out still. I knew this was silly since all I wanted to do was be at camp for the last few hours.

I set up my tent for the first time in a while. I’ve been cowboy camping most of the time, but there were lots of animals in this area so I thought the tent might be best. I ate dinner and had a little campfire. I was actually really happy to be camping alone for the first time in a while. I had been hoping no one else would be at the site.

Tomorrow looks pretty flat, and then I’ll be doing a big decline to get into Burney Falls the next day. I’m thinking of taking a zero at the Burney Falls Guest Ranch since I’ve heard only wonderful things. Only a few more days.

 

Day 48: 36 miles, August 28

Today was almost like two days in one. I had some incredible views to start, which had me already taking breaks early. The views were well worth it.

I was having a really bad mental day. My mind was wandering and I kept thinking about things I didn’t want to. My pace was very slow and it just wasn’t a good day. I didn’t care how much mileage I did today because I didn’t want to beat myself up anymore.

After my 100th stop of the day I was looking at my maps and realized it would make more sense for me to get to Burney Falls camp that night so I could have a nice and relaxing day tomorrow. It was already 4:30pm and that meant adding 15 miles to my day… I did the math and I could totally do it if I pushed.

I got in full force mode and started hiking at a faster pace. I actually felt so much better after I kicked things up, it was exactly what I needed. It was weird how fast your mood and state can change. It felt like I was starting to have more control over my mind which was really great.

I hiked into the night, which was my first time night hiking. I actually really enjoyed it. It felt like there was more pure solitude.

Beautiful night sky!

I was finally approaching the Burney Falls State Park and was planning to camp 0.5 miles past it. I saw two headlamps in the distance and figured it was campers from the state park, but it happened to be two NOBOs–– Brewhiker and CK.

We laughed at the fact that we were all night hiking and then decided to stop and eat together. Once we started talking, we realized how many mutual connections we had which blew all of our minds. We had ran into so many of the same hikers but had never met.

With that, we decided to just camp right where we were. We played cards and had such a fun night. We sat right in the middle of the trail and they pulled out there groundsheet that they were having everyone sign. Awesome idea! Tonight was the latest I had stayed up since I’ve been on the trail.


I should have known something amazing would have come out of this day when it started out bad! Such a fun, unexpected night on trail.

 

Day 49: 9.5 miles, August 29

The plan today was to get up early, check out the falls, and hike to Burney Guest Ranch to stay the day/night. It didn’t really happen that way.

We all woke up and decided that we should play one last game of cards before we all head out. We ended up staying there for a while, then all went to the General Store to get food. One thing lead to another and before we knew it we were all gathered around the picnic table eating food, drinking beer and playing games. It was perfect. I love these moments.


I wasn’t mad about not getting to Burney Falls Guest Ranch right away. I either would hang out at the State Park with company, or go to the Guest Ranch and probably hangout alone, so it actually worked out perfectly.

What an incredible day though. It felt great to just relax and chill. It finally got time where I had to get moving or else I’d be night hiking again. We all went to check out the falls, then said our goodbyes and parted ways.

It was only 10 miles to the Guest Ranch which wasn’t bad at all. I passed an INCREDIBLE sunset which unfortunately was blocked by some trees, but still looked unreal regardless.


I got to the Guest Ranch in just the right amount of time before it got dark. I was welcomed by Linda and was blown away by the beauty of the ranch. It was so homey and I hadn’t seen anything like this since being on trail! It felt nice!

She welcomed me with some homemade Strawberry ice cream, we chatted shortly and then I set up camp. I was excited to spend the day here tomorrow. I had an easy day today and will have another easy one tomorrow. Lots of relaxing but I’ve really been pushing out miles, almost by accident. The last few days have been nice to just go with the flow and see where things take me.